Course accused of ‘cold-hearted complacency’ as six horses die in one day at Killarney

Posted on the 11th May 2009

Killarney racecourse has been accused of ‘cold hearted complacency’ by Animal Aid, Europe’s largest animal rights organisation. The group’s attack comes after the death of six horses in one day at the racecourse was dismissed by a senior course official as ‘just the law of averages’.

Sunday’s carnage is thought to be unprecedented in modern times in Ireland, and matches the death-rate seen during a single day at the 2006 Cheltenham Festival – a notorious occurrence that prompted a full-scale inquiry by British racing’s regulatory body. As well as the six dead, four other horses were injured during the opening day of the three-day Killarney meeting. Animal Aid is calling for a prompt and thorough inquiry by the Irish Turf Club, as well as an independent review of horse deaths on all Irish racecourses. The horses who perished on Sunday at the Killarney course were Panther Creek, Robin Bu Bois, Imperial Hills, Wishwillow Lord, Sonorra and, it is believed, Tusa An Fear. In response to the deaths, Racing Post quotes Clerk of the Course, Brendan Sheridan, as declaring: ‘All the jockeys said the ground today was perfect. It’s just the law of averages.’ Said Animal Aid Director Andrew Tyler:

‘To pass off the deaths of six horses in a single day’s racing as a statistical blip amounts to cold-hearted complacency. The Irish racing industry claims it cherishes and cossets its Thoroughbreds but the official response to Sunday’s carnage proves that these horses are seen by some as mere disposable commodities.

‘Animal Aid’s revelations and campaigning in relation to British racing has put the national regulatory body – the British Horseracing Authority – under strong and growing pressure. A recently tabled House of Commons Motion, which calls on the government to act decisively to tackle racecourse deaths, has already attracted the support of 80 MPs. Killarney racecourse and the Irish Turf Club will find themselves under similar pressure to ditch their do-nothing complacency and take seriously their legal obligation to protect the welfare of horses.’

Notes to editors:

  • Of the approximately 18,000 horses bred each year by the closely related British and Irish racing industries, only around 40% go on to race. Many of the uncommercial animals end up slaughtered for meat, while those who do enter racing suffer a high level of fatal injuries and stress-related illnesses, such as gastric ulcers and bleeding lungs. Around 6,000 British Thoroughbreds leave racing each year, yet very few are properly provided for when racing ends.
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